Dillon a pillar of strength for Blue Devils

Don't bother asking Jackson Dillon what he did last Saturday in Enid.

Don't ask him about his 22 carries for 109 yards and two touchdowns. There's no point in bringing up the first 11 of those carries, which came on a 13-play second quarter drive that Dillon himself capped off with a 4-yard TD run, erasing what had been a 14-7 Texhoma lead.

It was the first of four straight Ringling scores, en route to a 35-21 Class A semifinal win that now has the Blue Devils in position to win the school's fourth state title when they face Wynnewood at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Stillwater.

You won't hear much about it from Ringling's quiet giant. Mostly because he doesn't remember any of it.

Dillon, playing through the pain of a severely infected arm, has hazy visions and sparse details he can recall from the game, but for the most part has no recollection of his play during the contest.

"I just remember feeling weak," Dillon said. "I had some bumps that had come up on my arm the day before, but I didn't think anything about it.

"I'm not going to leave (Ringling) without knowing I gave everything I had to win."

That tenacity and stoic nature is certainly nothing new to his head coach, Tracy Gandy.

Gandy told a story about Dillon's youth, before Dillon was the hulking 6-foot-7 terror that intimidates every opposing player that sees him step off Ringling's team bus before a game.

"He had a wreck while he was driving a go-cart," Gandy recalled. "Anyways, he ended up breaking his arm.

"His expression didn't even change. He just looked up at me and said, 'I think it's broke.'"

It's why Gandy had no idea of the extent of Dillon's injury until he received a text the next day from Dillon's father, Richard.

"He was in the hospital," Gandy said. "They ended up giving him fluids. He's just so tough ... I've never seen him show pain."

Just tack on another chapter to what has become a legendary postseason for Dillon, who has run for 261 yards and five touchdowns in his past two games against Wayne and Texhoma. The two teams, prior to playing Ringling, had a combined record of 23-1.

They left their encounters with Dillon 0-2.

"He's risen to the challenge so well for the playoffs," Gandy said. "There is not a situation that is too big for him."

Strangely enough, the product Dillon is putting on the field, despite its exceptional quality, has not appeared to garner the attention of in-state colleges Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Even with the pedigree of Dillon's father, Richard, a former Sooner star at middle linebacker in the 1980s.

"I think it's because he's playing in Class A, but a great football player is a great football player," Gandy said. "He could play at any school in the state."

For his part, Dillon isn't bothered by it. With a commitment to Memphis, his college future is already secure.

Besides, he's too busy worrying about the challenges in front of him.

"I want a state title," Dillon said. "All that other stuff, it can wait until next week."

It's just another example of the leadership provided by a player who gives his all, every week, for his school. Gandy tells another story, this one taking place in the aftermath of a sloppy 29-8 win over Marietta in week 3.

In the locker room post-game, Dillon exercised his seniority, letting his teammates know that the game they had just played was not going to be good enough.

"We needed to get some intensity," Dillon said. "That wasn't good enough for our program, it wasn't good enough for our senior class, and it wasn't good enough for our coach.

"We have something to live up to here, and we were going to do it."

His team listened, as Ringling won its next nine games by an average of 41 points per contest. Now, Dillon and the Blue Devils are poised to finish 2012 with a flourish and more importantly, a golden football.

"This team, especially Jackson and this group of seniors, is writing their own chapter here," Gandy said. "And it might be the best yet."

Spencer White